- What are we waiting for, gathered in the Forum? This is the day the barbarians come. - Why is the Senate so idle, the Senators all in their places but not making law? Because this is the day the barbarians come. Why should the Senators bother with laws? When the barbarians come, they'll make them. - Why has our emperor risen so early, to sit at the principal gate of the city in state, on his throne, with the crown on his head? Because this is the day the barbarians come, and the Emperor's waiting to welcome their chieftain. Indeed, he's made ready a parchment to give him, on which are inscribed lots of titles and names. - Why have our consuls and praetors appeared, dressed up today in the crimson, the embroidered togas; why are their armlets encrusted with amethysts, rings bright with glistening emeralds? And why are they bearing their batons of office, exquisitely sculpted in silver and gold? Because this is the day the barbarians come, and things like that dazzle barbarians. - Why don't the eminent orators turn up as usual, making their speeches and speaking their parts? Because this is the day the barbarians come, and they're bored by such eloquence and public speaking. - Why this uneasiness suddenly, why this confusion? (The faces - how serious they have become.) Why are the squares and the avenues rapidly emptying, everyone turning so pensively homeward? Because night has fallen without the barbarians coming. And some people have come from the borders who say that there are no barbarians left any more. And without the barbarians now, what's to come of us? They were a sort of solution, those people.
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